3 NJ FFs hurt battling fire at manufacturing plant

Phillipsburg Fire Chief Rich Hay said firefighters faced difficult conditions fighting the blaze within the plant's pollution control system


Kurt Bresswein
The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa.

PHILLIPSBURG, N.J. — A stubborn, smoky fire Tuesday evening at a Phillipsburg manufacturing plant took nearly two hours to get under control, and resulted in minor injuries to three firefighters, the town’s fire chief says.

Emergency responders were called for heavy smoke at 5:35 p.m. in the area of Sitgreaves and Stockton streets and found the source was a fire at McWane Ductile, 183 Sitgreaves St., Chief Rich Hay said in a news release.

The blaze was in a portion of the plant’s pollution control system known as the Bag House, a 40-foot-by-40-foot steel-encased structure located at the rear of the facility.

The structure contains thousands of filter devices, designed to clean pollutants from the byproducts of the pipe-making process, Hay reports.

Firefighters went to work knocking down flames on the second and third levels of the Bag House, in conditions Hay described as difficult.

“The fire was extremely hot, smoky and difficult to access,” the chief says in the release.

The Phillipsburg Fire Department was on scene for more than five hours, and went through more than 115 breathing tanks, Hay said. About 60 firefighters from five of the town’s six fire companies responded to the two-alarm call, with the remaining engine company and mutual aid partners from Alpha and Harmony Township on standby for any additional incidents.

The Phillipsburg Emergency Squad set up a medical area to monitor the firefighters, and a decontamination area was also established to wash down responders and their equipment, Hay said.

No plant personnel were injured. Hay told lehighvalleylive.com he was unaware of any threat to the public from smoke the fire sent over the town.

McWane Ductile spokesman Michael Jones also said there was no risk to the surrounding community from the fire.

Plant operations are halted while the plant determines the cause of the fire and extent of the damage, he said Wednesday.

The cause of the fire also remained under investigation by the Phillipsburg Fire Department, Warren County Fire Marshal Joe Lake and New Jersey Division of Fire Safety.

There was no estimate of damage immediately available.

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©2020 The Patriot-News (Harrisburg, Pa.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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